SALT LAKE CITY — Dixie State's first season as a Division I women's basketball program will be pushed back a year.
The Trailblazers announced Tuesday evening that they will temporarily suspend all women's basketball activities, effectively ending the 2020-21 season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dixie State (1-2) was in its first season of reclassifying to Division I, and was scheduled to play New Mexico State in its first game as members of the Western Athletic Conference on Friday. Obviously, that day will be pushed out a year in light of Tuesday's decision, which school officials stressed was made strictly for health and safety reasons.
"While we are disappointed with this for our women's basketball program and its coaches and student-athletes, it is 100% the right call," said Dixie State athletic director Jason Boothe in a statement. "We have kept the safety and well-being as the top priority for our student-athletes throughout the pandemic and given the issues this team is facing, this decision is right in line with that top priority. Once we get through the pandemic and all the issues it causes for everyone involved, we look forward to having the team back in action next school year."
Picked to finish eighth in the WAC in the league's preseason poll, the Trailblazers had five of their eight non-conference games canceled due to COVID-19, including the first-ever game with in-state foe BYU as Division I foes. The season will end with just one victory, an 81-52 win over Park University, as well as losses to Portland State and Southern Utah.
Though every program has been affected and seen schedules altered by the pandemic, the Trailblazers are the first in the state of Utah to abruptly cancel the season for COVID-19-related concerns. Duke was the first program in women's basketball to halt all activities, when first-year coach Kara Lawson called off the season amid virus concerns.
The Dixie State men's team will continue its season, though that Trailblazer program has been delayed, as well. The Trailblazers saw their WAC opener against league powerhouse New Mexico State postponed by a COVID-19 case in the Aggies' program, but the two schools have rescheduled the two-game series for March 5-6 at Burns Arena in St. George.
The WAC normally does not reschedule postponed league games, but found an opening after Chicago State opted to cancel the remainder of its season. The Cougars were scheduled to play New Mexico State on March 5-6, which also coincided with Dixie's bye week.
The Trailblazer men's basketball team, which last played at No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 29, will open WAC play Jan. 15-16 at UT Rio Grande Valley.